Penrith City Council’s Mayoral election will be embedded in Penrith’s great story as an historic moment, with the outgoing female Mayor passing the baton to another female for the first time in Council’s 150-year history.
The recently formed 15-member Council elected longstanding Councillor Tricia Hitchen as Mayor of Penrith City during Monday night’s Ordinary Meeting and watched on as Councillor Karen McKeown OAM handed over the Mayoral chains.
Cr McKeown expressed her “heartfelt congratulations” to Cr Hitchen and paused to reflect on the pivotal event.
“It is a momentous occasion for this Council – in 150 years it’s the first time a female Mayor has handed the chains to an incoming female Mayor and I really take great pride in that,” Cr McKeown said.
Penrith’s new Mayor will serve a two-year term with Councillor John Thain elected to be Deputy Mayor through to September 2022.
Cr Hitchen, a retired police officer who was first elected to Council in 2012, has served two terms as Deputy Mayor since 2016.
After being elected unopposed, Cr Hitchen said she had looked back on the past 10 years and how much Penrith has changed, in particular the many new estates which have been developed including Thornton, Caddens, and Twin Creeks.
She said it’s an exciting time for Penrith with several transformative projects taking shape, such as the Regatta Park upgrade, the Police Cottage refurbishment, City Park, and the Soper Place car park revitalisation.
“Given the success of these projects in Penrith, we now have the opportunity to expand similar projects into St Marys and the eastern part of our LGA, to synchronise with the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport,” Cr Hitchen said.
“St Marys has a unique opportunity to grow and provide our residents with an exciting shopping experience, CBD and lifestyle,” she said.
Cr Hitchen is currently a volunteer director of The Haven – Nepean Women’s Shelter. She is an active member of Council’s Access Committee, Local Traffic Committee and is on the board of St Marys Town Centre.
Cr Hitchen strongly advocates for people with disabilities through her own experiences of having a child with special needs, which has seen the introduction of more accessible spaces in the St Marys and Penrith CBDs.
In recent years, Cr Hitchen has started a local community garden at Kingswood, been vocal about her concerns regarding the overdevelopment of Oxley Park and pushed for an upgraded off-leash dog park in St Clair.
New Deputy Mayor Cr Thain, who was also elected unopposed on Monday evening, has been a Penrith Councillor since 1999. He first served as Deputy Mayor in 2004-2005 and has been in the Mayoral role twice, in 2005-2006 and again from 2016-2018.
Photo caption: Councillor Tricia Hitchen has been elected Mayor of Penrith City with Councillor John Thain appointed Deputy Mayor.